Episode Three: Intelligent Listening for Beginners

Written by:
Chris Boucher
Directed by: Christopher Baker
Episode Length: 48'24m
Originally Broadcast: 20th Jul 1987, 20:30
Ratings: 2.6m

David Calder (Nathan Spring), Erick Ray Evans (David Theroux), Trevor Cooper (Colin Devis) and Linda Newton (Pal Kenzy).

David John Pope (Michael Chandri), Trevor Butler (Leo), Thomas Coulthard (Ben), Tara Ward (Shuttle Hostess), Peter Quince (Shift Foreman) and Peter Glancy (Process operator).

Technical Personnel:
Gareth Milne (Stunt Arranger); Chris Boucher (Series Deviser); Ian R. Wallace (Production Associate); Gary Downie (Production Manager); Karen Jones (Production Assistant); Betsan Morris-Evans (Assistant Floor Manager); Robin Lobb (Video Effects Supervisor); Mike Kelt/Malcolm James (Visual Effects Designers); Trevor Wimlett (O.B. Cameraman); John Wiggins (O.B. Lighting); Ian Leiper (O.B. Sound); Peter Granger (Technical Co Ordinator); Garth Tucker (Studio Camera Operator); Charles McGhie (Graphic Design); Chris Ferriday (Properties Buyer); Dennis Collett (Videotape Editor); Jim Stephens (Vision Mixer); Chris Townsend (Studio Lighting/Director); Chick Anthony/Richard Chubb (Studio Sound); Lynda Woodfield (Costume Designer); Jill Hagger (Make-Up Designer); Justin Hayward (Theme Composer/Theme Sung By); Justin Hayward/Toni Visconti (Incidental Music); Joanna Willett (Script Editor); Dick Coles (Designer) and Evgeny Gridneff (Producer).

Character Development:
Pal Kenzy is properly introduced; a national figure in Australia with a background in engineering and a skilled poker player. Currently based on Coral Sea, the fixed orbit station run by the Allied Pacific Consortium. She is almost immediately sacked, along with Inspector Kirk Hubble, for being crooked.
Theroux is promoted to Chief Superintendent, the second-in-command position.
Colin Devis is revealed to have been married five times, while Sergeant Corman from the previous episode is now in jail.
Box is finally identified as a "multi-function self-selecting interface system". It was one of the prototypes, the series never having gone into production. Also, David and Nathan have a predilection for black coffee with no sugar.

Future Lives :
The Organisation of Pan-Continental Anarchists is referred to. The International Space Police Force go on a recruitment drive, and invest in two hundred laser pistols made in Canberra, Australia - pistols that can even select the skin pigment of their targets. Sleep circuits are available in rooms, including visual and aural stimulation, such as waves on a beach.

The Crimes:
Computer failure causes chaos in a chemical corporation and the Channel Tunnel. Also, a group of terrorists, "The Black Hand Gang", are hijacking a moon shuttle.

The Solutions:
The computer failures were instigated by Michael Chandri, a man in the shadow of his father. Chandri was a multi-millionaire and had one brother, Sajit. With the destruction of his own computer systems, he could pretend his new computerised listening device was a success.
Fortunately, Devis and Kenzy are on the shuttle when it is hijacked. Heroes, Kenzy uses the situation on a news bulletin to get herself reinstated.

Nathan and David's Movie-Buff Challenge :
Nathan uses Box to answer David's quote challenge - "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do" - as coming from Shane. He also effects a hardboiled private detective voice along the lines of Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade to say "goddamn guesswork".

Viewpoint 2008 :

"Just finish your business quickly and get out here, will you? We're spread a bit thin on the ground."
"Well, you will keep sacking people."
"Yes, do bear that in mind."

Shuttle hijacks by a militant organisation... self sacrifices... covert monitoring of survelliance information for military means... an Islamic Mastermind... episode three is Star Cops at its fortuitously topical best. Fortunately David John Pope's Chandri appears in the series before it descends into national stereotypes, and the actor fleshes the part out well, despite having somewhat dubious motivations. Yes, Intelligent Listening is another episode where the script is king, with so many ideas that intriguing concepts like the "racist weapon" are mere side issues. Once more the production fails to live up to the potential, but when the ideas are this good your suspension of disbelief can easily take a backseat.

Okay, it's padded in places and yet still manages to be the shortest episode by far. It opens with some sparkler explosions and lots of stuntmen flying around. Moonrover looks a bit too much like a model, particularly as they spend so much time focussing on it. And the only real arrests needed this week were an urgent swoop on Thomas Coulthard by the Equity Police. But this is well thought out, adult SF with logical ideas that have proven to be somewhat prophetic. Perhaps most importantly, it has the best episode ending of the lot.